Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 12
WAGS took our June General meeting on the road. Over 25 members visited the Los Angeles Central Public Library’s Genealogy collection. The Genealogy Reference librarian Julie Hoffman gave us ideas and a tour of the resources that we could only use while physically at the library. We spent over six hours perusing the stacks for family and county histories, using the library computers to search for free www.Ancestry.com
and using the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) for unique articles on www.FindMyPast.com
Many members took the time to obtain a library card so we can use at home the Access Newspaper Archives, City and Street Directories, Genealogy and Local History Index, Sanborn Maps (1867-1970), and Historical Archives of the Los Angeles Times; New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle.
Barbara Giles and her sister found a county history of their home town. Have you reviewed “MUG” books? The information found in genealogies, county, town and church histories varies greatly in accuracy and depth. Always be careful about accepting anything and everything in these books as 100 percent accurate. A lot of the town and county histories were produced for the American centennial (1876) or for the bicentennial (1976) celebrations. You could submit articles with a payment to be put in these books. So, often it is the affluent people of the time and location who appear in the books. And therefore, only the goodness of the subjects is credited, and some exemplary qualities are often very over the top.
Donna Morton spent time looking for her brick wall ancestor, Henry. He is now thought to be British not German. Has this happened to you, where a family story states one thing but research leads you to a different area? This is where PERSI can be a unique resource. The one of a kind articles in local genealogy and historical society newsletters are an underutilized resource. The website www.FindMyPast.com
has exclusive rights to PERSI. Plus many of these PERSI articles can be viewed for free at the Los Angeles Central Public Library.
Jan Berry said she had success in getting negative results in her research, so now she knows where not to continue her search. This can be a good thing. A good method to narrow down search areas is in the newspapers; these are the social media of the day. By having the Los Angeles Public Library card at www.lapl.org
, it can provide a wealth of online newspapers resources. Newspaper Archives has over 2.2 billion pages, from the 1600’s to 2018.
Roger Mount reviewed the Sanborn Maps. Founded in 1867 by D. A. Sanborn, the Sanborn Map Company was the primary American publisher of fire insurance maps for nearly 100 years. These maps include information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Did you ancestor own a business, hotel, garage, stable, warehouse or factory? Think about using these maps to learn more about their work lives.
I hope everyone who joined the field trip had an interesting and fun time at the library. If you did, please let Roger Mount know so we can think about making a library visit a yearly event.
At our May meeting, WAGS was delighted to welcome back Joel Weintraub. He gave a very informative and persuasive talk about “Ellis Island: What Really Happened”. He presented many thoughts on why the legend of “My ancestor’s name was changed at Ellis Island “is incorrect. We learned about how the passenger lists we search on the website https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org
were created in the country of origin, not at Ellis Island. The captains of these ships were fined and had to pay for return passage of immigrants for incorrect or fraudulent passenger lists.
The inspectors, who spoke at least three languages, processed up to 400 to 500 immigrants per day. A famous inspector was Fiorello LaGuardia, a U.S. congressman and three-term mayor of New York City. LaGuardia was the son of an Italian father and a Jewish mother from Austria-Hungary, and spoke Italian, German, Yiddish and Croatian.
Our afternoon session, we learned about how to prepare to search the 1950 US Federal Census. This Census will ask fewer questions than the 1940 census and the full population was asked only 20 questions. As in 1940, a 5 percent sample was asked an additional slate of questions. Just like the 1940 Census release on April 1st, 2012, there will not be a name index upon initial release. So there will likely be a crowd sourced name index created by many diligent genealogists.
This name index could take time, so Joel and his partner Steve Morse have already created tools to help us find our ancestors in this census. Their website, www.SteveMorse.org
has an easy to use “Unified 1880-1950 Census Enumeration District Finder.” It gives step by step instructions to locate the ED, so on April 1st
, 2022 when the Census is released online by www.NARA.gov
you will be able to narrow down the 1950 Census pages.
So start now to locate where everyone was living on April 1st
, 1950. Scour Naturalization Records, Employment records, Obituaries, Voting Registers, and old letters for addresses. Phone Books and City Directories are great resource, https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa
. I was able to locate my parent’s home in Torrance in ED as 19-925.
WAGS will have field trip to the Los Angeles Public Library 630 W. 5th Street with parking at 524 South Flower Street on June 16th
2018. Julie Huffman, the Librarian in the History & Genealogy Department will provide a tour of their resources at 11:00 AM. The library is open until 5:30 PM and make sure to get a free Library card and validate your parking. Prepare in advance by searching their catalog https://catalog.lapl.org/carlweb/jsp/search_page.jsp
by Surname, County or State. Pay special attention to items titled “Periodicals”; these are often genealogical society newsletters that contain unique and unusual resources. They will likely need to be pulled from the closed stacks, so have those call numbers ready.
WAGS was lucky to have Barbara Randall give two presentations at our April meeting. In the morning, we learned about the usefulness of Local History books in our research. They can be found at local libraries and Historical societies, Genealogical Societies and Family History Centers. However, she explained that many of these types of books are out of copyright and available to view and download online.
They can contain Vital Records, Anecdotal stories, Veterans lists, Land ownership maps, History of the County and Pictures. They often include biographical sketches, such as on www.Books.Familysearch.org
, I did a search for “The History of Erie County” and I found a lengthy write up of Jacob Lunger, a shoemaker, who earned enough money to buy land in Waterford, PA. So now I need to look at land records in Erie County.
Where did your ancestor immigrant from? www.Books.Google.com
has the “The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio”; it states that the Humason family recently emigrated from New Haven, Connecticut. The “Biographical Record of Rock Island County, Illinois” published in 1897, discusses the Revolutionary War service in Massachusetts of Captain John Black. So I need to look at military records.
, is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. I found the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the “Woodbridge and vicinity: the story of a New Jersey township” for the 1600’s to 1700’s. Also, www.WorldCat.org
has 2 billion items and tells you where to find them in a local library or where to ask for an inter-library book loan. I found the “Biographical and Genealogical record of La Salle County, Illinois” which is housed in the Los Angeles Public Library.
Barbara’s afternoon session illustrated the benefit of asking the “How” and “Why” to obtain context of our ancestor’s lives. She suggested reviewing all the artifacts and records; analyzing and interpreting how and why of documents; and researching what is missing and where to go next.
A good way to start is to create a timeline of the basic facts of an ancestor. Then, to add context try the website www.historylines.com
, it offers two free stories of an ancestor’s lives and gives very interesting details based upon birth year and place and death year and place including items such as: wars, newspapers, education, hygiene, clothing, religion, marriage customs, diet, medicine, military, transportation, communications, politics, commerce, natural disasters, and financial crashes.
Remember when you are doing newspaper research to read the whole issue, not just the one article on your ancestor. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
is a free site that is always being updated. And remember to search by town name, initials, adding Mr. and Mrs. and significant anniversary or birthdates. I found an article about my civil war veteran ancestor titled “Comrade Samuel B. Owens celebrates his 92nd
birthday” in 1921.
Lastly, to get a geographically perspective try Google Earth to view your ancestor’s villages to see rivers, mountains, and distances between towns to see perhaps logically why a migration occurred. Also, look at plat maps to see the names of all the neighbors since these are likely marriage candidates.
WAGS welcomed Colleen Greene at our March meeting. She made wonderful suggestions on how to paint a bigger picture of Hispanic Ancestors’ lives. She gave insight on thinking about the social life and customs that focused on everyday lives of ordinary people.
She pointed us to https://www.calisphiere.org
if your roots run deep in California history; this is a digital collection from California’s great libraries, archives and museums. Did your ancestors live in Tulare County? The Sesquicentennial Photograph Collection consists of images derived from photographs contributed by individuals in the community and local museums. The photos were selected mainly for their historical interest. They represent various aspects of life in Tulare County. The photos date from 1860's to 1990's.
For a national search, try https://dp.la/
, The Digital Public Library of America. The website has 28,545 oral history interviews. There are interviews of military veterans that span the history of the US, including children of Civil War veterans. Was your ancestor a 1900’s miner, teamster or a machinist? There are over 600 interviews with people about these working conditions. Oklahoma pioneers were interviewed in the 1930’s by the WPA. These are people born in the early 1860’s!
Do you have a probate packet that includes an inventory of possessions? Think about using the “Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993” on www.Ancestry.com
to see pictures of items listed such as a Hay Rake, a Beaver Shawl, and a Cobbler Seat Rocker. Also, figure out the freight rate to buy from Sears and have it shipped to your ancestor’s home; there was no Amazon Prime.
I was delighted to present a class on Naturalization Records for our immigrant ancestors. Naturalization of US Aliens started in 1790 and the residency laws changed many times over the years. Military service could speed up the process. The documentation created in the process can be useful to genealogists. The forms generated after the year 1906 provide the most detailed family information, including place of birth, year and place of immigration, names and birth dates of spouses and children.
Women and children are special cases and until the late 1920’s, they obtained derivative citizenship from their husbands and fathers. And women could lose their citizenship, even if they were born in the United States but married a foreign born man from 1907 to 1922. The reverse was not true for men.
Federal and State Census questions can help narrow down that date of naturalization. Check out Homestead Files, since at least
of Letter of Intent was needed to purchase land. The resources on the www.FamilySearch.org
can include Letters of Intent, Petitions of Citizenship and Naturalization Certificates for all 50 states.
At our February 17th morning class, we had a panel discussion by four WAGS board members, Kristina Newcomer, Christine Cohen, Marilyn McCarty, and Rick Frohling. Program Director, Roger Mount moderated the panel with questions about their research journey.
Kristina Newcomer shared a Bridal Souvenir book with birth, marriage and death information, a Swedish Bible from her Great Aunt Alfie Ostman, a German Prayer book detailing the reasons for her GGGGrandfather’s decision to come to America, and a “Grandmother Remembers” journal. Ask your relatives if ANYONE has these types of items hiding in their closets or attics. They can be a gold mine for genealogists. Make it known that you are the family historian so nothing gets discarded.
Rick Frohling shared that city directories led to information about unknown marriages. Since these often provide the husband and wife’s name and place of employment. A good website for online resources is https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa .As an example, if you look at 1936 Boise, Idaho directory you will find Sherman, Virgil (Harriett F) Bellman Hotel Boise H 425 Jefferson St. Apt. 41.
Marilyn McCarty told of being a family historian, who loves to learn about the family stories. She and her sister learned unknown details of their mother’s life when they found of box of old family papers. This is the only place where these family vital records are found. If you are interested in journaling family stories come to the March 17th meeting to learn about software to get you started https://www.rootsmagic.com/Personal-Historian/Essentials/
I spoke about https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page which should be the primary website to learn about genealogy resources. They are digitizing records every day and I found the 1825 Washington County, NY State Census images are available to browse. I was able to locate my ancestor John A Cline and his brother Milton Cline. This helped me narrow down a marriage date based on the ages of the children listed.
Our afternoon speaker Gregory Beckman told the story of the 3 Beckmann brothers from Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. We learned how he corrected the information of the headstone of Civil War Veteran Augustus Beckmann, who was buried as Augustus Bergman at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. He fought in the battle of Shiloh, was taken as a POW and died at Camp Dennison, Ohio.
Greg found a newspaper article in the Cincinnati Commercial Times, dated April 19, 1862 about the USS Monarch that brought the Confederate POWS to Ohio. Did you have POW ancestor? Check https://www.newspapers.com/ to see if there is an article about their arrival at a POW camp. Greg used the resources on https://www.fold3.com/ for the service records and muster rolls as documentation of the burial error.
Camp Chase is considered a National Cemetery and CSA soldiers are considered veterans. Camp Chase therefore, falls under the umbrella of the National Cemetery Administration https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/grants/veterans_cemeteries.asp In December 2015, Greg provided them ten items to demonstrate their headstone error. And by December 2016 a corrected headstone with the name Augustus Beckmann was installed in the cemetery.
At the January meeting WAGS welcomed for the first time John Garside, TV Station Manager at the City of Whittier. He has over 20 years of professional experience in TV production. If you visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_aWR3-YwGsgCk_f1Zky43Q
you can for free watch a dozen “Forgotten Tales” that focus on the little known history in and around Rancho La Puente and Whittier.
He shared with WAGS members video clips and told interesting stories about the Whittier Earthquake in 1987 where he interviewed the famous “Mustang” owner; The Battle of Providencia that has a battle recreation that includes a real cannon being fired; Gay’s Lion Farm that had over 250 lions kept in the City of El Monte; The Electrodome about trying to manipulate the weather with lightning bolts; and the Crash of Flight 416 where he found plane parts in Turnbull Canyon.
Have you ever explored https://www.youtube.com/
to see if other historians have uploaded videos about your ancestor or communities that you are researching? I searched for “Woodbridge, New Jersey History” where my Freeman family lived. It had over 3,000 results including uploads from the Historical Association, the Salamander Brick Works and 350 Years of New Jersey History. How about ethnic groups? Try a search for “Palatines”. You get 1,210 results about German Palatines, Mohawk River, and Pennsylvania German American Culture. Plus a search of “Genealogy” has 236,000 results. There are videos form NARA.gov, BYU FHL, and Ancestry.com. You can spend all day watching, learning and expanding your research skills from your home.
After 1820, lists are available with limited information such as name, age, year and place of arrival. “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500’s – 1900’s”
by William Filby can be a good starting point and it is searchable on www.Ancestry.com
The biggest port of entry is New York, especially after 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal. However, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans should be researched. Look for clues as to the date of entry in Federal and State censuses, Voter Lists and Homestead applications.
WAGS had a wonderful Pot Luck and Show & Tell at our December 2017 meeting. Members brought delicious salads and desserts, plus there were yummy meatballs for all! Then, we had interesting and varied presentations by five WAGS members.
Bonnie Morris was very excited about receiving a February 2017 magazine, some of which was in Swedish, about customizing cars entitled “Gasoline”. It contained stories of the lives of her still living relatives Forey (age 104) and Glen (age 100) Wall who owned a car lot on Firestone Blvd. in South Gate. The magazine had many photos of the cars that they have customized. If you like custom cars, as well as genealogy, check out http://gasolinemagazine.se/
LeRae Phillips gave us a lesson in DNA research as she “thinks” she has located her birth father. She used DNA tests and the website https://www.gedmatch.com/
to triangulate a likely match. She then used genealogy research to go back in time to locate a likely grandfather and then go forward in time to find living descendants. She has located a likely half-sister and is just waiting for the DNA tests to confirm her conclusions. Her persistence has hopefully paid off after many years of searching. If you have questions about DNA testing, perhaps ask LeRae since she has immersed herself in this great genealogy resource that we all should be using.
I showed WAGS members a letter sent to my Grandfather Rufus Cline in South Dakota from Freeman Loomis of New York City, NY in 1917. Mr. Loomis appears to have been an avid genealogist who provided two pedigree charts of my Bloodgood and Freeman ancestors. This gave me a great head start in my genealogy research when I began in 1977, after watching Alex Haley’s miniseries “Roots” on television. All of his research has proven to be accurate. These were both prolific families who had many descendants in New York and New Jersey. I used his research to help me obtain acceptance in the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames http://www.hollanddames.org/
in 2015, as a descendant of Frans Bloodgood, a resident of New Netherlands prior to 1674.
Tracy Winkler used the resources on the genealogy website https://www.myheritage.com
to find information about Edward Tracy Bemis and his wife Nina Baer who had married in 1908. She located, to her great surprise, based on a newspaper story that Nina was divorced and Edward was her 2nd
husband. “The Billings Gazette” in 1907 had a story that “Mrs. Halpin wants to be Free and Says so, that’s All”
. She had married Thomas Halpin in 1906 and wanted a divorce by 1907.
Our last presentation was by Roger Mount about publishing his memoirs, which he wrote in 1984. He plans to use www.Blurb.com
. If you are ready to publish your memoirs and photos in book form consider using this website. He said it is easy to download the software and then choose a size, paper quality and cover type. They have plenty of choices for pricing for any budget. WAGS is looking forward to seeing the finished product at the next “Show & Tell”.
WAGS was delighted to welcome John V. Richardson Jr. PhD/UCLA Professor Emeritus of Information Studies at our November meeting. He presented a case study combining DNA test results and a paper trail to solve a genealogy brick wall problem. He made a very convincing case using results from the DNA testing website https://www.23andme.com/
and many years of paper research to claim a distant ancestor. He reminds us that each of our GGGG-grandparents contributed 1.56% of your DNA, roughly. So those matches far back in time are very tiny and need a lot of paper trails to perhaps find the right person. A great resource to upload the test results from 23andMe, Ancestry and FTDNA is https://www.gedmatch.com
to compare with a large database of data that has been voluntarily uploaded by other testers. He suggested reviewing the website of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) at https://isogg.org/
. Their mission statement is to “Advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research while promoting a supportive network for genetic genealogists”.
If you were intrigued and want to learn more about DNA, consider attending the SCGS Genetic Genealogy day on May 31st
held in Burbank. It will have over 30 sessions by nationally known experts that cover every aspect of DNA research from beginner to advanced level.
Make sure you use the resources on https://www.dar.org/
, Social Security Death Index, WWI and WWII Draft Registrations, unusual Surname websites and First Family websites to go forward in time to find cousins. These cousins could have inherited the family Bible or ancestors photos. Often times the youngest child inherited these items since they took care of their elderly parents. Plus, you want to make it known that you are the family historian and will be a “good home” to any papers or research that a cousin may possess. Also, you may be lucky and find a research partner who shares your passion for genealogy.
Our morning class presenter, Pat Chavarria gave us insights about the resources that are unique at Historical Societies and Museums. She suggested expanding your research parameters. Make sure to visit these museums when you visit you ancestor’s hometown. They may have photos or displays that give understanding and context to the town’s and your ancestor’s history. Online, try the website http://www.preservationdirectory.com/HistoricalPreservation/Home.aspx
. It has a listing of 4,500 historical societies in North America, and 7,000 history museums and house museums.
I found for the State of Wisconsin, the website https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/
. It has many online records and databases. I located a newspaper clipping about my ancestor Francis Clyma, who opened the first hotel in Monticello, Wisconsin in 1836. His grandson Newell Ebenezer Combs is listed in the Military Collection in a Regiment book on the 22nd
Regiment Company G in the Civil War. Also it gives Newell’s hometown, date of enlistment and when he mustered out. These books list soldiers who were killed and wounded at each battle by regiment.
For Connecticut there is the http://www.newhavenmuseum.org/
it has a town map of 1641 of New Haven that shows the land owned by my immigrant ancestor Richard Hull. Ashtabula, Ohio has the 2nd
oldest historical society in Ohio established in 1838. Http://www.ashtcohs.com/
has a wonderful set of articles by the “Log Cabin Club” written in 1915, by people who lived in log cabins in that county as youngsters in the early 1800’s. I visited the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/fort-pitt/
, it had a display of the names of colonial prisoners exchanged in the French and Indian Wars. Was your ancestor in that area in 1756-1763, perhaps they are on these lists?
In the afternoon, we welcomed Bill Beigel, who instructed WAGS members on how to research our WWII service men and women. We learned about the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). This document can contain details of the service of your ancestor. It will likely take months to obtain and can cost about $ 70.00. The fire in St. Louis in 1973 destroyed a majority of the files for Army and Air Force personnel for the surnames after letter B. However, Bill suggested at least make a request and see if you can get lucky. The After Action Report (AAR) is another resource to inquire about, these document the combat operations of specific commands and units in active theaters.
Visit NARA https://www.archives.gov/research/military/veterans
to get started. Online items available to view range from the American Revolution Pension and Bounty land records, Plans and sketches of Civil War Forts, Military Service Records from the Spanish-American War, Collection of WWI photographs, WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualties Lists, and pictures of United States Navy Ships (1775-1941).
I am sure all of you have hit brick walls in your research. I feel I have utilized many of the traditional resources and need to broaden my research scope. So lately I have been investigating manuscript collections. These are often documents, photos, registers, and vital records donated by individuals or organizations. They can be unique and not found anywhere else except at that archive or library. Plus the items themselves are usually not digitized and you have to use a finding aid to get details about what is included. Then, you must email or call the institution to have them assist you in reviewing the item.
Try looking at ArchiveGrid at https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/
. I entered the name “Clyma” in the search box and got two results. One was a collection held by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies https://www.butlercenter.org/
It has photographs of the 3rd
Missouri Calvary Company I in the US Civil War. One photograph is of my ancestor William Henry Clyma. He was born in Wisconsin and died in Missouri. I see no connection to Arkansas. I am able to then click on the link and contact them to see if I can obtain a copy of the photo.
I then tried a location search for “Woodbridge, New Jersey” and got 158 results, including Arthur Adams collection 1770-1911, that has deed and court records of the “Tappen Family” housed at the http://www.atlanticcountyhistoricalsocietynj.org/index.php
. And remember to use the Summary View of the results to narrow them down by surname, location, time frame etc...
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection is located at https://www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/
I tried a search using a surname and a county for “Bellinger and Schoharie”. This listed 2 boxes of legal and estate papers in housed in the New York archives. A search of collateral surnames is a must since you never know what a cousin or in-law may possess about your ancestor. So I searched for the “Phippen” family of Massachusetts and found a listing for 6 linear feet about them in the “Barton Family Papers”.
The FamilySearch.org wiki https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page
has over 2,200 search results for “Manuscript Collections”. A very popular one is the Draper Manuscript Collection pertaining to the frontier history and settlement of the old Northwest and Southwest Territories of the United States from the 1740s to 1830.It has 491 volumes of genealogical and historical notes, land records, newspaper clippings, and interview notes.